The Mighty Logo

8 Essential Books on Borderline Personality Disorder

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Knowledge is power anytime, but especially when you live with mental illness. We can learn so much about ourselves through the words of others, not to mention we can help others learn more about our mental illness, and how they can support us on our more difficult days.

As I scroll through social media support groups, I frequently see people ask for book recommendations for borderline personality disorder (BPD). Therefore, I think it’s finally time someone made a list of BPD-related books to help others find exactly what they’re looking for.

1. “The Buddha and The Borderline” by Kiera Van Gelder

“The Buddha and the Borderline” is a woman’s first-person narrative of diagnosis and early recovery. Van Gelder’s tale includes a slippery slope of struggles that lead to her BPD diagnosis, plus her inspirational recovery through therapy, Buddhist spirituality and online dating.

When I first received my borderline personality disorder diagnosis, my therapist recommended this book. I instantly fell in love with Van Gelder’s writing style and felt less alone for the first time in my life. Now I recommend this book to anyone who just received a diagnosis or simply wants to read a firsthand account of BPD.

2. “Stronger Than BPD” by Debbie Corso

The road towards recovery with BPD can feel insurmountable at first. It’s sometimes hard to see how anything can possibly help, and many online forums leave people questioning if recovery is even possible.

Debbie Corso, a BPD survivor and advocate, compiled this book to help individuals with borderline personality disorder find the path towards recovery. This book is full of information on dialectical behavior therapy skills and real-life examples to help people see how others have worked through these same struggles and come out stronger on the other side. And speaking from experience, these skills definitely work.

3. “Get Me Out of Here” by Rachel Reiland

This astonishingly honest memoir reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside. Through the pages, we watch Reiland heal from borderline personality disorder by engaging in intensive therapy and leaning on loved ones.

Although this memoir is a bit longer than many of the others out there, I find its message just as important. This particular memoir is great for any mother or working professional who received their BPD diagnosis a bit later. As someone who just received my diagnosis at 29 and was able to mostly keep life together, this particular story really rang true for me.

4. “Girl in Need of a Tourniquet” by Merri Lisa Johnson

In this memoir, Johnson, a self-proclaimed “psycho girl,” shares her journey from dysfunction and dysregulation to the beginning stages of recovery. Intertwined with her own story, Johnson throws in helpful information about BPD. Although it makes readers sometimes feel like they’re jumping around, it really helps paint a full picture.

Like “The Buddha and The Borderline,” this novel not only provides great inspiration, but also a sense of connection many of us with BPD feel is missing in our lives. I think it’s a great choice for anyone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder to read and explore themselves through Johnson’s story.

5. “Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery” by Perry D. Hoffman and John G. Gunderson

“Beyond Borderline” is a collection of over 20 short stories from individuals who battle borderline personality disorder, compiled by two notable experts on BPD. These stories explore a wide array of symptomology and also explore recommended therapeutic modalities for BPD recovery like dialectical behavior therapy and mentalization-based therapy.

What I love about this collection is the way in which it not only highlights the many ways BPD can vary from person to person, but also the many paths people can take in their recovery. No mental illness and no treatment is a one-size-fits-all approach, and I think many therapists especially lose sight of that with personality disorders.

6. “Remnants of a Life on Paper” by Pamela and Bea Tusiani

Pamela Tusiani battled severe borderline personality disorder until her untimely death. Through her journal entries and artwork and the opposing voice of Pamela’s mother, Bea, readers can start to piece together the complexity that is BPD.

Unlike most other memoirs out there, this book is actually a compilation of journal entries and accounts from a mother and sister written after Pamela’s death. This causes some controversy about its place as a BPD guide, but the wealth of insight it provides is invaluable.

7. “Loving Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder” by Shari Y. Manning

There’s a lot of negative press out there about borderline personality disorder, which can leave many friends and family members feeling lost and conflicted when their loved one receives a BPD diagnosis. However, Shari Manning tries to help rewrite the story and help loved ones better understand this disorder and how they can help with the recovery process.

This important book really can help those who take the time to read it. Once loved ones understand exactly why people with BPD behave how they do and see them in a new light, both parties can work towards building better relationships.

8. “I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me” by Jerold J. Kreisman

Although this book serves more as a guide than a novel, “I Hate You—Don’t Leave” is a comprehensive collection that can help many people understand borderline personality disorder. It explores BPD’s roots, its symptomatology and treatment through psychotherapy and medication management.

“I Hate You—Don’t Leave” has earned a reputation as one of the best resources out there for both newly diagnosed BPD patients and their families. It opens the door for so many to openly explore BPD and begin the road to recovery. Also, fun fact: Demi Lovato actually wrote her song (of the same title) after reading this book.

Whether you’re looking for a book to help you feel less alone in your borderline personality disorder diagnosis or a guide to help you better understand a loved one, there’s something for everyone on this list. And although there are many other resources out there for BPD, I personally found these to be the most helpful and powerful. Remember that knowledge is power, and recovery is always possible once you have the right tools for the job.

Follow this journey on Living on the Borderline

Getty image by Barmaleeva

Originally published: December 12, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home